While people have competing views as to subsidized housing and who should bear the burden of funding said projects, the benefits to the communities which play host to such communities cannot deny the economic boost to the local economy and employment market. For instance, the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program, by all accounts, is one of the most wildly successful housing stimulus public policy programs enacted to date.
While the name alone expressly states its purpose, to create homes for low-income families, what it does not state is the tangential benefits to the surrounding communities. Yes, since inception the LIHTC is responsible for creating over 2.5 million units for low–income families, however, it is also responsible for producing 140,000 jobs annually and generating $1.5 billion in state and local taxes and other revenues. These are jobs in all sectors of the economy, from construction to government jobs, created to manage, regulate and oversee the entire construction process from conception through completion and then the day to day maintenance and management of the project into the future.
Undeniably, the need to create safe and secure housing for low-income families should be reason enough to support these programs. That being said, the economic benefits to local communities who choose to promote and support subsidized housing programs truly benefits everyone, not just the lucky families who call these projects home, and should not be overlooked.
Building green is the practice of reducing the negative effects construction has on the environment by increasing the efficiency with which buildings use and consume resources (energy, water, and materials). In addition to reducing the impact the building has on the environment, green building is also intended to reduce the project’s impact on human health throughout the complete building life cycle, by utilizing better design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal techniques. This is accomplished, in part, by using sustainable materials, by covering the floors with tile instead of carpet to reduce the existence of allergens and other airborne toxins, building in a manner that does not waste space, using renewable energy sources, utilizing larger windows to allow more natural light, building in a manner that takes advantage of the site (i.e., shade from trees), using LED lighting products and thoroughly insulating the project.
However, it has recently been discovered that there is a dark side to building green. For example, the very methods intended to enhance a building’s performance, such as building solid airtight structures, prevents a building from breathing and can actually make a building highly susceptible to moisture and/or mold problems during its first few years of operation. This is because if no air goes in the building, no air goes out. While this is easily treated and/or prevented, it requires residents and other occupants of green buildings to do their part in reducing the chances of mold growing in the units by opening windows on a regular basis and in some rare instances bringing in dehumidifiers.
In addition, the cost to build in a green manner may increase the cost of construction by 10%-20%; while these initial costs are intended to be offset by the human health benefits and reduced cost to operate the completed project (i.e., using less energy and water) that is not always the case and the cost to construct is not offset by the desired efficiency savings.
In conclusion, it is critical that well established maintenance plans are established, desired efficiency ratings are properly defined, budgeted, and contracted for and an overall “green plan” is in effect prior to the commencement of the project.